Sunday, July 27, 2008

Junie's not welcome here

Little Red Riding Hood will be selecting the blog bling winners later today.

A couple of people have asked me why I don't like the Junie B. Jones books. My daughter was given her first and only Junie book as a Christmas gift several years ago. Within the first few pages of the book, I decided that it was junk and wasn't appropriate. There is a gratuitous use of slang, questionable word choice (IMHO), and other manglings of the English language that I felt were counterproductive in teaching a first grader how to read and write well. I just knew that I would eventually hear the words, "But that's how it's spelled right here in this Junie B. Jones book." As parents, you all know that if teachers and authors say it's so, well, by golly, it's gospel. If I challenge/correct what any of them say, it has to be validated by multiple sources like the dictionary, the FBI, the CIA, the internet, and Daddy.

Here are just a few goodies from the Junie B. Jones book we have. And yes, these are all in ONE book. And, yes, this is all written verbatim.

Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth

"I made a fist at him. "How'd you like me to bash your brains in, you big fat Jim?"

"Only I hate that dumb guy."

"I did a big sigh at her."

"Only that stupid head Jim wouldn't let go of it. And so I had to pinch his arm."

"I do act like a little lady, you dumb bunny Lucille! And don't say that again, or I'll knock you on your can."

"Im going to dress up like a princess," said my best friend Lucille that I hate. "

"only this stupid ant bited me. And so I had to drop a rock on his head."

"And he told us some other stuff that cops do. Like give our dads speeding tickets. And rest drunk guys."

(UMMM, do your even kids know what "drunk" means? Mine don't. And do they need to at this age?)

"Then Mrs. said that maybe some of us might like to dress up like dentists or police officers on Job Day. Yeah, only what if you don't like drunk guys or bloody teeth?" I asked.

In reference to her brother in a chapter titled "Dumb Ollie" : "Darn it, darn it darn, it. 'Cause that dumb old baby takes up all of Mother's time. " That's nice.

That's why Junie isn't welcome in our house. But that's just me.

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Swirl Girl said...

I love the Junie books.

They are written by an adult from the perspective of a tom boyish girl who 'we' see go from kindergarten to 2nd grade. Her language and behavior grows as well. My daughter read the whole series and never got in a fist fight or called her sister stupid. She concludes (quite well on her own) that certain behaviors evoke responses and sometimes - less than desirable consequences.

But- your opinion of the books is valid and there are thousands of other books to introduce to your children. That is why this is such a great country ! Choices and opinions!

I guess the most important thing is that you foster your child's love of reading!

Jacki McHale said...

Since my two are only 2 and 3 months, I have been pretty safe with what they are reading.

But I do like the idea that you checked it before. Hmm, on the book itself, I use to much slang and don't like fighting.

I guess it is how you raise your kids too. But I agree, it's probably not a great idea to teach them about "stupid" "I hate" and "drunks" they will get enough of that from watching there relatives!

SITS sister

Bobbi said...

My youngest daughter read a few Junie B. Jones books, but she was always more interested in the classics: The Neverending Story, all the Wizard of Oz books, the Narnia Chronicles and the Wrinkle in Time series.

Children who love to read have a tendency to be able to weed out the "bad" books from the great books!

EEEEMommy said...

Have you heard of the Betsy-Tacy books? They were written in the 1940s by Maud Hart Lovelace. They're excellent! I read them when I was a child, and my 9 year old is reading them now. I bought the first one for her at Christmas and then we borrowed the next two from a friend. She begged me to buy them for her, so that she could OWN them and read them whenever she wanted and get to the end and start over again. Fortunately, I'd just ordered them the day before. ;)
There is so much quality literature available for children that it doesn't make sense to let them read trash.

Caroline said...

Oh, Besty and Tacy were the bomb-diggity. That's sad that books can sometimes be an influence for children to treat others with hurtful words and actions. I want to be very careful of things that the redhead sees and does, although I realize I can't shelter him from everything. I think you are very wise and proactive. I wish we lived closer, I could learn a lot from you!

Lula! said...

We haven't discovered the Junie books yet, but I'm more for the works of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nancy Drew, and Beverly Cleary. We are reading Fancy Nancy, though--so far, so good!

You are a great mom, Debbie...

Trish said...

having boys there has been NO interest in the Junie B. Jones series, thankfully.

The media specialist (librarian) at Ben's school is a good frined of ours and he is a Christian! He is always watching out for what Ben is reading and helps him to make GREAT choices when picking out books! I count that as a HUGE blessing. Although we have run across some books ('Captain UnderPants' and the 'Bone' series) that we have returned unread because I did not think the content was appropriate for my young boy.
I do think that our kids are still at the age where it is VERY appropriate to preview what they are reading and watching, in order to help them make good choices. There will come a day soon enough where we will have to let go of those controls and if we have instilled good values into them now, it will be a little easier (but certainly not foolproof!) for them to fall back on those values.
So YAY for you!

Regarding the Berenstain Bears, I would be interested in knowing the publishing date for the bully book. You know that Stan Berenstain died in 2005 and his son took over the writing of the series after that. Maybe he has done to the Berenstain Bears what the Walton children have done to WalMart?
We have a bookshelf full of older Berenstain bear books that we LOVE to read!

Sissy said...

We have the Junie books in my library and I really don't steer the kids that way unless I have a really relunctant reader. Some parents won't buy them at the book fair, and I am fine with that. It's all about how you want to raise your kids. But it's also why I have the Mandy series available too. They are a little older, but the character is a Christian and prays all the time.

Kathi said...

Yep, It makes you wonder doesn't it???

When my girl was in 1st grade....she got a JBJ book and I could hardly read it aloud to her. I stumbled through it. She loved it though.

My hubby refused to read them to her....he said she'd never learn correct English from them.

Now you need to give us some good books.

My girl LOVED the Little House books. In fact, we ended up getting her the entire series on DVD...not all at once....spread out over Bday's & Xmas's for a couple of years. Talk about an awesome show. They even talk about God!!!

Jen - Balancing beauty and bedlam said...

You go girl. As parents, we have the tendency to 'dumb down' our kids because we are just so excited that they want to read Most parents don't even take the time to educate themselves, and it's so wonderful that you are. Our sermon today was "Balancing truth and love." With I could go into more detail but the bottom line is...this would have been a great sermon analogy.:)hee hee

Kimberly said...

As a teacher, I have JBJ books in my classroon because they appeal to many kids' interests. Many kids feel they can relate to a character who doesn't speak perfectly, or who has the same kinds of irrational or impulsive emotions as they do.

That being said, I mostly keep them in my classes because I don't think I should be the one dictating what is available to them. I rely a lot on parents to preview what their kids are reading so they can monitor the kinds of values they find appropriate for their children. This way, if families are okay with kids reading JBJ or BB, they have that control. If they don't want those books for their kids, I am perfectly happy to help them find books appropriate to their beliefs.

As a kid I loved the "Shoes" series by Noel Streatfeld. Ballet Shoes, Dancing Shoes, Skating Shoes...all very good books that teach wholesome ideas. Same with the Little House books, and we also loved the Anne of Green Gable books.

Anonymous said...

Seems a fair call to me! I bought a couple of Dragon Tail books at the dollar store for my kids awhile back. And while they're both good books, one of them has Ord saying, "I'm not climbing that dumb rock again." I don't read that word... and I'm thinking I need to cross it out, because my MIL came over the other day... and read it to my son... I just about died when she read it. She didn't even pause... I guess I'm just more conservative than she is?!?!

Kat said...

I think my girls like Junie because she was a caricature. To them anyway. Same way they liked the David picture books. I think they get great joy from reading about kids that are bad.

But what you are doing is key. And that's knowing what your kids are watching and reading. And censoring them if you feel the need.

I used to give the kids free reign on whatever was on Disney channel. Until they were watching "The Proud Family" and there was an episode about the oldest daughter following the father because she was worried he was having an affair. WTF?! Exactly.

Life With My 3 Boybarians said...

I'll give ya' a big "Amen, Sista'."

The thing is, there are thousands and thousands of great books. There is no reason to read such destructive crapola when there are so many fine choices for brand new readers.

I think as parents we have only a small window in which we get a say (any say, at all) about the kind of language kids hear. Why not choose something great?

And it isn't about being a stuffy conservative. There are some fun, funny, silly stuff out there that doesn't model name-calling or teach 1st graders what "drunk" means.

We've really liked Burgess' Animal Stories here lately... silly, laugh-out-loud stories, rich language.

Hope you and yours are well. Pretty please come to Blogher next year. By then you'll be uber-famous, and I can ride your coat tails. ;)


Michelle said...

Debbie -- I'm with you (as one of the ones who had asked the question). Mister Man is just starting to read "real" books (he's not yet 5), so I'm definitely careful with what I'm exposing him to. I haven't gotten to the Junie B Jones books yet, and knowing what you just explained, I may not EVER read them. I'd prefer to expose my children to things showing the right way to do things... but that's just me.

And I'll THIRD the recommendation of the Maud Hart Lovelace books (although were they written in the 1920's or 40's? I haven't read them in decades so don't remember). I read the whole series all the way up through when Betsy was married. Highly recommend them.

The other series I loved growing up was the Bobsey twins. I don't remember now who wrote them, but there were a TON of them and all very wholesome and interesting.

Hot Tub Lizzy said...

Essie ADORES Junie B... and at first I had some of the same reactions as you, but then I decided this would be a good first step in becoming a critical reader. So, we read them together, and we would talk about some of the bad choices June B made and what she could have done differently... we even correct her spelling.

(And a btw - Gert called Junie B -Jaboons...)

Kelly said...

I have loved reading all the other comments. It is interesting to see how so many parents who care so deeply about their kids see things from different views. While I tend to "err" on the side of being ultra conservative and over-analyzing every sigle thing in my daughters lives, I have to say that on the Junie B. Jones issue I was pretty much ok.
Now, I must confess that we read them in kindergarten, so we were reading them aloud to the girls and did a lot of editing (I would NOT approve of the "drunk" stuff), but even so, they were just so far removed from our normal household that they just cracked the girls up. They didn't pick up any of the "bad" words or behaviors, and I think another commenter nailed it when she said her children appreciated the parody of "badness" that JBJ is. They also have grown to be avid readers of "good" literature, as well as still enjoying some lighthearted "easy" readers such as Nancy Drew.
Anyway, these books were one of our secret delights... my children's equivalent of me flipping through People in the grocery line but never deigning to purchase one to have at home:-)

This Mom said...

Wow who knew a 1st grader's book would evoke such passion. I have 2 older boys they had no interest. My daughter is starting the 1st grade tomorrow. Guess I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

Elena said...

I love how passionate you are about stuff. That's what makes the world go 'round, all of these different opinions. I do have to say, I'm still a Junie fan. (Don't hate me.) It's not because I approve at all of the things Junie does or say, but it is the lesson that I am able to teach my daughter (who thinks just like Junie). We're able to look at the problem it caused Junie and then discuss it so that my own daughter doesn't do the same thing. These have been a very enlightening (and discussion promoting) couple of posts.

Trooper Thorn said...

Junie B was a great stepping stone for my kids from Dr. Seuss to chapter books and they were really fun to read out loud. I still laugh at the book where Junie B is afraid to go to the farm because the rooster might peck her head to a nub. Butg she falls in love with a chick and tries to take it home in her pocket.

I'm laughing now, but then I'm simple.

Anyway, I'm giving you the Brillante Weblog award. We don't have to always agree to be friends.

Follow the cryptic instructions about passing it on.

Connie said...

The way I look at it, Debbie...

We've got ONE chance in life to raise our kids...and we reserve the right to react or over-react at any time. We are doing what we feel in our hearts is RIGHT for our children and who can possibly fault us for it?

Personally, there was a time when I wouldn't even let my little kids watch the Smurfs because I felt there were underlying occult references.(I feel that way about the Harry Potter books for little kids too ...gasp!)
My point is...they like to rib me about it to this day... But they also realize now (as adults) that I was doing what I felt in my heart was the right thing at that time. They are thankful for how they were raised.

Have I made mistakes along the way? You bet...and perhaps the Smurfs would have never warped my kids' minds...but then again...they haven't been harmed by me disallowing it either.

I give you a lot of credit for taking a stand and holding firm to your inner convictions. If you feel it's inappropriate for your kids, then it's inappropriate. period. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.

Melissa said...

I have read a few of the Junie B.'s to my son and I have had to skip over parts I felt were inappropriate. He follows along with me now that he can read so that doesn't work as well anymore. Whenever we come across something in any book that is questionable, we talk about it. I ask, "Was that a nice thing she just said?" It gives me an opportunity to show my kids how not to behave. However, kids come by that behavior easy enough without being fed by Junie. We don't read her anymore. Magic Tree House is our favorite and the Boxcar children.

Gina said...

That said about the bears, I do like Junie B. I think she is hilarious. My kids don't act, write, or talk like her, but she does make for some pretty good car time. I think I am only missing 2 books from the ENTIRE series.

EEEEMommy said...

I came back to read through the comments, and had to respond to the woman who didn't let her kids watch the Smurfs. My mom didn't let us watch the Smurfs either, but we thought she was just being crazy and watched them anyway while she slept in. A couple of months ago, I was looking through the FreeSpot on my DVR and saw them listed, so I figured my kids would enjoy watching the lalalalalala blue people. I had to TURN. IT. OFF. in the MIDDLE. It was horrible and frightening. One of the smurfs was having a nightmare and then the nightmare was real and he was trapped. I couldn't believe it. So I had to go to my mom and tell her that she was right and the Smurfs aren't all sweet and innocent. A parent's eyes see things differently than a child's.

Tracy P. said...

Interesting conversation here! Glad I came back home in time. I'm with you, Debbie. Once we let it get written on their brains, it's there forever. As long as you are monitoring what they read (and watch), it can be used as a teaching tool. I'm most concerned about what they take in that I'm not aware of. Yea for you for staying on top of it!

Anonymous said...

my dd who is 10, recieved a book, but she does not like it.
She likes Narnia books.
have you tried Paperback Swap?

We are a group of readers who share books with each other (NOT just paperbacks) for nothing more than the cost of postage.

Love this site!!!

~ Kelly ~

Jennifer P. said...

Well, I have to admit that I LOVE Junie B. Jones books--but I hated them for the same reasons you do. They were read alound by me, with lots of editing---no dumbs or stupids. Junie came off like a saint when I'd read her! And my kids actually picked up on the fact that she used improper grammar and we had fun talking about how a certain sentence should REALLY be said. That's probably the first and only thing you and I will ever semi-disagree on ;)!

Tiffany said...

We are big magic tree house fans over here.. bit into Junie B Jones yet. Will ponder all the great perspectives here and make a decision after I take a look.

Love ho thoughtful you are Debbie!

Heather said...

When EB started to read, everyone told me to run out and buy her Junie B. Jones. I didn't bother reading through it in the book store, I just bought it. We didn't like it. EB said, "Kindergarteners don't talk like that!" Needless to say, we never bought another one.

MotoMom said...

My kids, now 12 and 14, have been passing along some of their favorite books to me to read over the past few years. It is a great way for me to keep tabs on what they are reading and interested in.
My daughter did go through a Junie B. Jones phase. I loved those books! My daughter has ADD and struggled in elementary school with being different. Junie's thoughts and behaviors were so much like my daughter that I think she found a character she could relate to. Reading those books gave me a better understanding of my daughter's perspective.

Megan B said...

Give me strength. So (not) excited to send my oldest to kindergarten this year. Sigh....

Tracy P. said...

Just read a really great book with my girl--Mary Maroney and the Chocolate Surprise by Susie Kline. What an awesome lesson about telling the truth. LRRH would probably enjoy those, and Birthday Boy (the Prince, is it?) would love her Horrible Harry series. There are class clowns/bullies in both stories, but they are not glorified, and the worst word in MM was burp, I think. Thanks to whoever suggested Mandie--picked one up at the library. LOVE Magic Treehouse too...children's literature is one of my favorite things!